According to YouTube, Bryson Gray is a purveyor of “medical misinformation.”
It’s a pretty strange accusation given his profession — rapper — isn’t one people generally turns to for therapeutic advice. It’s also odd because, with the exception of a single line, Gray’s hit song, “Let’s Go Brandon,” has little to do with Covid.
The title of the single, as nearly everyone knows by now, is a euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden,” an organic movement sparked when an NBC reporter wrongly claimed fans at a NASCAR event were actually cheering for a driver named Brandon. The moment perfectly captured the media’s dishonest covering for the Biden administration, inspiring a fed-up public to launch the viral slogan that, in turn, launched Gray’s hit.
How big a hit? “Let’s Go Brandon” has topped the iTunes chart for days running, beating out a new song from Grammy-winner, Adele.
But the tech giant was apparently afraid that seven words from a single lyric, “Pandemic ain’t real, they just planned it,” would persuade fans to do…what, exactly? YouTube hasn’t told Gray. They’ve only sent him a notification saying the platform, “doesn’t allow claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization.”
If you’re wondering when YouTube’s standards on musicians mentioning medical issues was implemented, it was apparently after Kanye rapped about the drug Lexapro in the song “FML” and Jay-Z spit lyrics about codeine in “Smile.” Both videos are still on the platform.
Numerous Snoop Dogg songs recommend marijuana for dubious medical purposes (in fact his hit “My Medicine” praises it for virtually all purposes, despite the fact any doctor will tell you advocating a constant state of intoxication isn’t good medical advice). Yet you can still find dozens of videos showcasing the song on YouTube.
So why, exactly, Gray wonders, has the platform suddenly decided it needs to police rappers who might drop a line related to medical issues?
‘It’s all about protecting Biden’
Ironically, Gray predicted his video would be removed in the song, rapping, “If you ask questions ’bout the vax, then they gonna ban us.” In an interview with The Daily Wire, he points out that actual, targeted threats of violence are pervasive in rap music, yet Big Tech has little problem with those videos.
“Gang bangers will talk about each other in these songs. And they brag about killing each other. These are real people, with real names. Sometimes they even include fake news segments and articles in the videos, announcing the deaths. And that doesn’t get banned,” he says, “It’s almost as if they only want rappers to succeed by promoting sex, drugs, gangbanging, and murder. What they don’t want you to do is even question the narrative a little bit.”
Part of the narrative the social media giants don’t want you to question, he believes, is the performance of Joe Biden.
“Look, [‘Let’s Go Brandon’] had like 70,000 views in one day and [Big Tech] can’t have that. So, I mean, their move was basically, ‘Let’s just get it out of here.”
Gray says it’s clear to him that YouTube isn’t really worried about what influence he might have over the public’s medical decisions, they’re trying to keep a song that embarrasses the President by highlighting his terrible record on a number of issues from spreading. “I think they’re trying to protect the Biden administration,” Gray says. “It’s all about a coordinated attack.”
A political evolution
Though he’s always been socially conservative, in his younger years, Gray believed he was a Democrat. But taking a deep look at the economic policies on the Right finally changed his mind.
“I used to be identified as a Democrat, but obviously that’s because I’m black and 90% of black people are,” he says. “I just didn’t know anything about economics. But even then, I was naturally economically conservative. And really, that’s common for the black community. We want to see people start businesses and go from nothing to something.”
He points out that rap music often celebrates capitalistic pursuits and rising to the top through hustle and hard work. Around 2015, he started to realize that his party affiliation didn’t match his ideology and started to seriously consider Republican policies. Now he’s a registered Independent because the Republican part isn’t conservative enough for him.
James believes part of the reason the Right has a difficult time making in-roads with black voters is because they don’t appreciate the power of pop culture enough.
“The issue is just the Democrats have always been better at marketing Republicans,” he says. “Not only do Republicans suck at getting themselves into culture, but they tend to alienate and or cast out those who are involved in culture.”
Instead, he believes conservatives have to get more involved in making pop-culture, and that includes hit rap songs like “Let’s Go Brandon.” Many new listeners who downloaded the song liked it enough to start looking for Gray’s other releases, like his Christian-themed album, “Letters to the Church.”
“I have so many supporters who tell me I was the first rapper they’ve ever bought something from,” he shares. “They hated rap until they heard my music. But there’s a lot of conservative rappers that make great music, not talking about killing people, not talking about sex. And it’s pretty dope.”
The fight for free speech
YouTube wasn’t the only platform to ban “Let’s Go Brandon” though. Instagram deplatformed the video as well. Based on his experience, Gray says he has no doubt that “people on the right don’t really have true free speech anymore.”
But like the hard-charging capitalist he is, he says he isn’t interested in just complaining about it. “We have to find ways around it,” he tells me.
“Look, I’m gonna let people know what happened [in his song being banned],” he says. “But I don’t have time to be like droopy and crying. No, I’m gonna [get] around it. I’m gonna hit the charts anyway just to piss them off.”
For that reason he’s exploring options like text sign ups so that he can reach out to fans directly when he’s releases new material and apps .
One thing he’s certain of though—he’s not going to be silenced.
“I’m [gonna] just keep doing what I’ve been doing,” he says. “Make my music. Say what I want. I have no record label, I’m as free as a bird.”
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